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ERIK VOLKERINK, TRAFFIC SAFETY ADVISER, AMSTERDAM POLICE As part of the Amsterdam police department’s traffic safety team, Erik Volkerink is in charge of advising on traffic management in the


city’s Zuid district. ‘Among other things,


my job with the police involves overseeing



road safety in municipal traffic plans.

René Riemersma advises the Zuid city


We assess all traffic-related decisions and

district on traffic and transport issues.


plans on compliance with traffic safety

‘There are many new parts of Zuidas with

The SWOV is the Dutch Institute for Road

legislation and national guidelines. We are

streets that are still awaiting development.

Safety Research, which aims to find answers

closely involved in everything that goes on

Once a street layout proposal has been

to questions that traffic management

in Zuidas. I myself am part of a consultation

submitted to the city’s Central Traffic

professionals face daily. Dr Letty Aarts is

committee that meets fortnightly to discuss

Committee, representatives for our district

vice-head of its Human Factors Department.

the situation on De Boelelaan. I’m especially

do a separate check to make sure all the

‘Though we were not involved in studying

concerned with the safety of more vulnerable

pieces of the puzzle fit. There’s always a

the specific situation in Zuidas, what you often

road users, like pedestrians and cyclists.

degree of tension between the design

see in busy areas like this, where there is lots

Do they have a clear overview of traffic?

and the traffic engineering side. As traffic

of road work, is that the reality is different

Are the signs right and visible? Naturally,

engineers we want everything to be struc-

from what people expect. For example,

everyone taking part in traffic has to take

tured as clearly as possible, whereas the

in caseroads are suddenly blocked off.

responsibility for their own safety. All over

designers come at it from a different,

And because this situation is continually

Amsterdam we’re noticing that people will

more aesthetic angle. On Gustav Mahlerlaan,

changing, people can no longer see the

rather pay attention to their smart phones

for example, the bicycle paths are black,

forest for the trees. Therefore, the municipal

than to what is going on on the road. In Zuidas

like the road. As traffic engineers, we advocate

and road authorities need to provide road

in particular, we see lots of motorists who

uniformity and recognizability by providing

users with clear signals. After all, what seems

treat their cars like they’re mobile offices,

bicycle paths with red pavement. It’s impor-

logical to the department of public works,

making phone calls or even working on their

tant that the road landscape tallies with the

may be less evident to motorists and cyclists.

laptops while they’re behind the wheel.

expectations of road users, because that will

For road users, in turn, it’s important to stay

That’s terribly dangerous! You have got to

minimize the chance of accidents. Of course,

calm in situations like these and to moderate

be switched on to your surroundings at all

there’s no such thing as a fail-safe road

your speed, giving yourself enough time and

times – especially here in Zuidas, where the

system. Participating in traffic will always

space to gauge the situation and take the

circumstances are changing all the time,

entail some risks, but we will try to limit

right decisions.’

traffic wise.’

them as much as possible.’’

Text Kika Samsom

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